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Page 188

A living plant grows both downward and upward, both invisibly and visibly above ground. How can this example be used to illustrate the more inward-working graces and the outward-working fruits of true conversion?

What dangerous misleading teachings and beliefs will result: when God's marks and fruits of conversion are denied; when God's variety in conversion is denied?

    A man once told a small group how God had converted him. Before his conversion, he was an alcoholic. In his drunkenness, he frequently became violent, destroying household items and hitting his wife and children. He was a terror to live with. But God convicted him of his guilt and led him to believe and trust in Christ as his Savior. As a result, his alcohol problems were conquered and his deepest desires now are to praise God and to love and care for others.

    An atheist in the group of listeners interrupted at this point, saying, "I hope everyone understands that this is just this man's imagination. I believe he's trying to be sincere, but his experience is not real. This is a flight of imagination - a dream!"

    A ten-year-old girl, seated in front of the atheist, turned around and said clearly enough for all to hear, "Sir, if this is a dream, please don't wake him from it - he's my father."

    The impression produced by this simple statement was profound - on both the atheist and the group.

    Why do the fruits of conversion testify of its reality?

While the scriptural marks and fruits of true conversion remain constant and serve as divine touchstones of judgment throughout the church of all ages, actual conversions display a rich variety of experiences. No two are the same.

    True conversions vary according to:

    1. Experiential depth and emphasis
    2. Emotional accompaniment
    3. Outward impressiveness
    4. Surrounding circumstances

1. Personal conversions vary according to experiential depth and emphasis. The thief on the cross received a deeper and clearer insight into Christ's work and kingdom in a few hours than the apostles did in the three years they walked with Jesus. He recognized that Jesus' kingship and kingdom were spiritual when he pleaded with the dying Jesus, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42). The apostles were still looking for an earthly kingship and kingdom. Even after Christ's

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